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LOS vs VMT - Why should you care?

In the Spring 2019 Good Neighbor Program meeting, Love Field Airport promised to make available the traffic analysis they were conducting with NTCoG (North Texas Council of Governments). As of April 2020, the surrounding area still does not know what the metrics are that Love Field is using as the basis for the north entrance proposal. So, we went back to where this all started, the Airport Master Plan and the August 2017 Sensitivity Analysis. Mind you, we are not traffic experts, but it seems that all the numbers and claims of failed intersections mentioned by Love Field at the Good Neighbor meetings are based on a vehicle-centric measurement called Level of Service (LOS). Ding, dong ... LOS is dead. Level of Service (LOS) has been the standard by which the city measures the transportation impacts of major developments and changes to roads. Level of Service is basically a measurement of how many cars can be pushed through an intersection in a given time. The new and improved measurement is Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). In short, instead of measuring whether or not a project makes it less convenient to drive, it will now measure whether or not a project contributes to other goals, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing multimodal transportation, preserving open spaces, and promoting diverse land uses and infill development.

What does this mean to us? Just that you should take the claims that the intersections around Love Field are at failure with a grain of road salt. The measurements at Mockingbird / Herb Kelleher and Mockingbird / Denton Dr were taken by the airport consultant at peak hours in the morning and in the afternoon. Sitting at a light for more than 2 cycles is common in Dallas during rush hour and, while not ideal by any measure, it only paints a partial picture.

We need transparency from the airport on the data used to arrive at a recommendation for a north entrance – preferably based on a study that works in concert with the larger transportation and environmental goals for the region. Are we there? Are we close? We just don't know. Calls for a working group to address these concerns remain unanswered from the City of Dallas.


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